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Armendariz v. Moya

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 21, 2019

MICHAEL ARMENDARIZ, Petitioner,
v.
STANLEY MOYA, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER ADOPTING CHIEF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

          HONORABLE WILLIAM P. JOHNSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Chief Magistrate Judge Carmen E. Garza's Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition (the “PFRD”), (Doc. 23), filed July 16, 2019; Respondents' Objections to the Chief Magistrate Judge's Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition (“Respondents' objections”), (Doc. 24), filed July 30, 2019; and Petitioner Michael Armendariz' Petitioner's Motion to Reconsider Final Order (“Petitioner's objections”), (Doc. 25), filed August 2, 2019. In the PFRD, the Chief Magistrate Judge recommended that Mr. Armendariz' Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (the “Petition”), (Doc. 1), be granted in part and denied in part. (Doc. 23 at 34). The parties were informed that objections to the PFRD were due within fourteen days of the date the PFRD was filed. Id. Both parties timely objected to the PFRD. (Doc. 24) and (Doc. 25). Neither party responded to the other party's objections, and the time for doing so has passed. See Rule 12 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings in the United States District Courts; Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(B)(2). Following a de novo review of the Petition, PFRD, and both parties' objections, the Court will overrule the objections, adopt the PFRD, grant the Petition in part, and remand this case to state court for dismissal of Mr. Armendariz' conviction for aggravated battery.

         I. Background

         This case arises from Mr. Armendariz shooting two off-duty police officers, brothers Damacio and Eric Montano, during a fight in the parking lot of a sports bar in Los Lunas, New Mexico, on October 6, 2002. (Doc. 13 at 2). Damacio Montano died as a result of his injuries. Id. Mr. Armendariz alleges the Montano brothers were beating his friend, Nestor Chavez, and he claims he shot the men in self-defense and in defense of Mr. Chavez. Id. On August 11, 2003, Mr. Armendariz was convicted in state court for first-degree murder (willful and deliberate); attempt to commit first-degree murder; aggravated battery; tampering with evidence; and possession of a firearm by a felon. (Doc. 13-1 at 1).

         Mr. Armendariz filed a direct appeal of his conviction with the New Mexico Court of Appeals, arguing the trial court erred by preventing him from introducing evidence of Damacio Montano's prior violence, and that his convictions for aggravated battery and the attempted murder of Eric Montano violate the prohibition against double jeopardy. (Doc. 13-1 at 67-103). The New Mexico Supreme Court denied his appeal, holding that the instances of Damacio Montano's past behavior were not admissible for the offered purpose and there was no double jeopardy violation. State of New Mexico v. Armendariz, 2006-NMSC-036, 141 P.3d 526; (Doc. 13-1 at 132-157). Mr. Armendariz then filed a state habeas corpus petition raising claims of prosecutorial misconduct, insufficiency of the evidence, and ineffective assistance of counsel. (Doc. 13-1 at 4-12); (Doc. 13-2 at 61-105); (Doc. 13-3 at 4-33). The state court held a hearing on these claims and denied the habeas petition. (Doc. 13-8 at 6-16). Mr. Armendariz filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the New Mexico Supreme Court, which was denied on November 19, 2018. Id. at 49-62.

         In his § 2254 Petition, Mr. Armendariz claims the state violated his constitutional rights by: (1) failing to preserve blood evidence; (2) losing or destroying the original surveillance video; (3) contaminating the scene of the crime; and (4) planting evidence. (Doc. 1 at 6-8, 9-12, 21-24) (Grounds One, Three, Nine and Ten). Next, Mr. Armendariz claims his counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate blood and video-surveillance evidence. Id. at 8-9, 12 -13 (Grounds Two and Four). He also claims the trial court erred by: (1) allowing a witness to narrate a composite surveillance video as it was played for the jury; (2) holding an important meeting outside of Mr. Armendariz' presence; and (3) excluding evidence of Damacio Montano's prior violent conduct. Id. at 14-15, 19-21, 24-26 (Grounds Five, Eight, and Eleven). Finally, Mr. Armendariz claims: he has new, exculpatory witness testimony, id. at 15-17 (Ground Six); there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for first-degree murder, id. at 17-19 (Ground Seven); and his convictions for aggravated battery and attempted murder violate double jeopardy, id. at 26-27 (Ground Twelve). In response to the Petition, Respondents state Mr. Armendariz exhausted available state court remedies as to all of his claims, and argue the claims should be denied on their merits. (Doc. 13 at 5).

         In the PFRD, the Chief Magistrate Judge considered Mr. Armendariz' claims, explaining that under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) Mr. Armendariz must show that the state courts' decisions were contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, or that they were unreasonable determinations of fact. (Doc. 23 at 4-6). The Chief Magistrate Judge found that the state courts' decisions as to Grounds One through Eleven of Mr. Armendariz' Petition were not contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, and did not result in unreasonable determinations of fact in light of the evidence presented. Id. at 6-28, 34. However, the Chief Magistrate Judge found that Mr. Armendariz' convictions for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery violate the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy. Id. at 28-34. Therefore, the Chief Magistrate Judge recommended that Mr. Armendariz' Petition be granted in part and denied in part, and this case be remanded to state court to vacate Mr. Armendariz' conviction for aggravated battery. Id. at 34.

         Respondents object to the Chief Magistrate Judge's finding that Mr. Armendariz' convictions for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery violate the prohibition against double jeopardy. (Doc. 24 at 1). Respondents argue the New Mexico Supreme Court properly applied federal law in considering Mr. Armendariz' double jeopardy argument on direct appeal, and the later overruling of that decision does not apply retroactively to Mr. Armendariz' convictions. Id. at 2-8. Mr. Armendariz objects to the Chief Magistrate Judge's findings regarding the video and blood evidence, and argues the state court erred by denying him an evidentiary hearing. (Doc. 25 at 1-4).

         II. Analysis

         When resolving objections to a magistrate judge's recommendation, the district judge must make a de novo determination regarding any part of the recommendation to which a party has properly objected. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Filing objections that address the primary issues in the case “advances the interests that underlie the Magistrate's Act, including judicial efficiency.” United States v. One Parcel of Real Prop., With Bldgs., Appurtenances, Improvements, & Contents, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996). Objections must be timely and specific to preserve an issue for de novo review by the district court or for appellate review. Id. at 1060. Additionally, issues “raised for the first time in objections to the magistrate judge's recommendation are deemed waived.” Marshall v. Chater, 75 F.3d 1421, 1426 (10th Cir. 1996); see also United States v. Garfinkle, 261 F.3d 1030, 1031 (10th Cir. 2001).

         A. Respondents' Objections

         Respondents object to the Chief Magistrate Judge's finding that Mr. Armendariz' convictions for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery violate the prohibition against double jeopardy. (Doc. 24 at 1). As explained in the PFRD, the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits the imposition of “multiple criminal punishments for the same offense.” (Doc. 23 at 29) (quoting Monge v. California, 524 U.S. 721, 727-28 (1998)). When a defendant is charged with violating multiple criminal statutes for the same underlying acts or omissions, the double jeopardy doctrine “prevent[s] the sentencing court from prescribing greater punishment than the legislature intended.” Missouri v. Hunter, 459 U.S. 359, 365 (1983); see also Wood v. Milyard, 721 F.3d 1190, 1194 (10th Cir. 2013) (“Simply put, a court cannot impose cumulative punishments for the same offense unless the legislature has authorized it to do so.”). In Blockburger v. United States, the United States Supreme Court held that a person may be prosecuted for more than one crime based on the same conduct if: (1) each crime requires proof of a fact the other does not; and (2) the legislature has expressed its intent to impose cumulative punishment for the same conduct under separate statutory provisions. 284 U.S. 299, 304 (1932); see also United States v. Pearson, 203 F.3d 1243, 1267-68 (10th Cir. 2000).

         On Mr. Armendariz' direct appeal, the New Mexico Supreme Court applied the Blockburger test and found that Mr. Armendariz' convictions for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery arose from the same conduct and each crime contained an element that the other did not. 2006-NMSC-036, ¶¶ 23-24. Moving to the second Blockburger prong, the New Mexico Supreme Court considered whether the legislature intended to impose cumulative punishment for those crimes. The Armendariz court reasoned that the two statutes were enacted to address different social harms, there was no language in either statute indicating the crimes were alternative ways of committing the same crime, and the two crimes did not necessarily have to be violated at the same time. Id. ¶ 25. Based on this reasoning, the New Mexico Supreme Court found that the legislature authorized multiple punishments for attempted murder and aggravated battery and upheld Mr. Armendariz' convictions for both crimes. Id.

         Six years later, in State of New Mexico v. Swick, the New Mexico Supreme Court reconsidered its holding in Armendariz. 2012-NMSC-018. The Swick court explained that “modifications to our double jeopardy jurisprudence since deciding Armendariz lead us to conclude that the Legislature did not intend multiple punishments for attempted murder and aggravated battery arising from the same conduct because the latter is subsumed by the former.” Id. ¶ 19. Specifically, the court explained that the application of Blockburger “should not be so mechanical that it is enough for two statutes to have different elements, ” and that the court erred in stating that the statutes were enacted to address different social harms. Id. ¶¶ 23-24, 29. The court further reasoned that any ambiguity regarding legislative intent should have been resolved in favor of lenity. Id. ΒΆ 30. ...


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